An onslaught of bombings that killed four and injured dozens in Thailand likely was politically motivated, Thai officials said Friday.
Ten foreigners were among at least 34 injured in 11 bomb blasts in multiple locations across southern Thailand that began Thursday and spilled into Friday, a national holiday known as “Mother’s Day” which celebrates the Queen’s birthday, the Health Ministry said.
Most of the attacks targeted southern tourist hotspots, including Phuket and Hua Hin, which houses Klai Kangwon, the summer palace of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit, who turned 84 on Friday.
Eight of the attacks took place within a three-hour span on Friday, indicating that they were coordinated, according to officials, who ruled out terrorism.
“The assailants must be in the same syndicate because this series of attacks needs several men to carry out making the bombs, delivering the bombs, planting the bombs and escaping,” Col. Piyapong Klinpan, the spokesman for the National Council for Peace and Order – the formal name for the Thai junta – told BenarNews.
“There must be a kingpin to plan it out and execute it. Who he is, we will find out,” he added.
From the prime minister on down, Thai officials said they suspected that nearly all the attacks were politically driven and tied to this week’s constitutional referendum, in which a majority of voters approved a draft charter that critics see as entrenching military rule.
“You figure it out … why they happened when the country is starting to get better, its foundation starts to get firm,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha told reporters in Bangkok, alluding the referendum.
At a news conference in the Thai capital, the nation’s police chief said suspicion fell on political forces opposed to the adoption of the draft charter, which is expected within the next few months.
“All [the attacks] took place in seven provinces where voters accepted the draft charter. There might be some opponents who carried out [the attacks] to discredit [the government] or damage tourism,” Police Gen. Chakthip Chaichinda told reporters.
Police said they were ruling out connections to international terrorism or separatist insurgents in Thailand’s predominantly Muslim and Malay-speaking Deep South, according to news reports.
Some 60 percent of voters in the southern border region, which has seen more than 6,500 people die since 2004 in violence related to an insurgency, voted against the draft charter in Sunday’s referendum.
“The incident is not linked to terrorism but is an act of stirring up public disturbance,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
“Security officials are expediting the interrogation process to bring the culprits to justice. Please rest assured that the government and security agencies are working together to resolve the situation and bring about peace at the soonest,” it added.
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